Montrose, COLO.—The Montrose County Public Health Department has confirmed a case of rabies in a bat in the county. A member of the public observed a bat flying in an erratic pattern fall to the ground. The individual safely stored the bat and brought it to a local veterinarian for testing. The bat was then sent to the state lab where rabies was confirmed.
“At this time, there is no immediate danger to the public or cause for concern,” said Montrose County Health and Human Services Director Stephen Tullos. The public health department would like to take the opportunity to remind community members to make sure their pets are up to date on rabies shots, avoid stray and wild animals, and take other precautions against rabies.
Rabies is a preventable viral disease of mammals most often transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal. The vast majority of rabies cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) each year occur in wild animals like raccoons, skunks, bats, and foxes.
Rabies in humans can be eliminated through ensuring adequate animal vaccination and control, educating those at risk, and enhancing access of those bitten to appropriate medical care. Rabies in humans is 100 percent preventable through prompt appropriate medical care but can be fatal in humans once symptoms appear.
- People who have been bitten or scratched by an unfamiliar animal should contact their health care provider and their local public health department immediately.
- If your pet has had contact with a skunk, bat, fox, raccoon or coyote, notify your veterinarian and your local health department.
- To report animals acting strangely, contact your local health department at 970-252-5000.
To avoid rabies
- Never touch or feed wild or stray animals. Don’t leave pet food outdoors. If you need help with a sick or orphaned animal, don’t handle the animal; instead, contact a wildlife rehabilitator right away. Contact a nearby animal shelter if you encounter a lost or stray dog or cat.
- Vaccinate your pets. Rabies shots should be given by a licensed veterinarian every one to three years. Don’t assume your pet is vaccinated; check records with your veterinary clinic.
- Leash your dog while walking or hiking.
- Keep pets inside at night. Keep dogs within your sight (fenced or on leash) when they are outside during the day.
- Vaccinate pastured animals annually. Have a licensed veterinarian administer an approved large-animal rabies vaccine.
- Bat-proof your home (learn more at https://www.cdc.gov/rabies/bats/management/)
Recognizing sick wildlife
- Healthy wild animals normally are afraid of humans, but sick animals often do not run away from people.
- Wildlife with rabies often will act aggressively or will violently approach people or pets.
- Some rabid animals are overly quiet and passive and want to hide. Don’t bother them.
- Rabid wildlife might have trouble walking, flying, eating or drinking.
For more information, visit the Colorado Department of Health & Environments site rabies web page at https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdphe/rabies.